When I first moved to Los Angeles, my very wise Aunt gave me some good advice about driving in LA.
Drive like everyone is armed. She said. Don’t just drive defensively, drive like a muthafuckin’ peace keeper.
If that SUV with tinted windows wants to cut me off, fine, give it space. As a result of my Aunt’s advice, I developed my own three word driving philosophy: Let it go.
Let it go can apply to many aspects of my life not just driving, but I find myself repeating that mantra most often in traffic. When I’m stuck behind the hundred thousand dollar mazarati which can’t get out of first gear, I let it go. When the beemer can’t seem to accelerate fast enough even though it has the power, I let it go. When the Audi has to show how much power it has (because that’s what Audi drivers do), I let it go. When the Honda civic can’t decide on a lane, I let it go.
I was recently driving down a side street in Beverly Hills. Suddenly, a white Lexus pulled up behind me and started honking the horn. It honked and it honked even though it could easily get around me. When we got to the stop light, I got out of my American car, went over, and knocked on the Lexus window. The woman in the driver’s seat (typical Beverly Hills, plastic surgery, no fat) looked at me with a fearful look in her eyes.
Are you okay? I asked.
The woman nodded.
I just wanted to make sure you were okay. I said.
Fine. The woman said without seeming to move her lips. I got back in my car. I realized I probably had freaked the woman out. After all, no one in LA gets out of their cars. Even when the traffic is not moving, we stay in our cars, our own little boxes of refuge. Some of us listen to music with the bass pumped up. Some of us compulsively listen to NPR. Some of us are on cellphones.
Recently, a good friend of mine, who is a compulsive horn honker, got to backseat drive with me.
I would have honked that guy. She said as I swerved around a minivan that didn’t know where the left turn lane was.
Even though I sometimes have to honk when someone is asleep when the light turns green, I realized that honking wasn’t worth it when I could just swerve around and continue on my way. I just let it go.